Kisses and Contagion in Troilus and Cressida

  • Jennifer ForsythEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)


Forsyth considers the role of kissing as a social practice in early modern England, noting the contrast between the historical custom of kissing as an important facet of hospitality and the extreme suspicion and jealousy expressed regarding kissing in contemporary texts, particularly dramas, and identifying key cultural beliefs linking kissing and spirituality through the medium of breath. In particular, she examines the way in which William Shakespeare correlates kissing and contagion in Troilus and Cressida, ultimately arguing that Shakespeare shows how men’s breath, in the form of words, carries more danger than Cressida’s breath, in the form of kisses, due to the male characters’ continual misinterpretation of Cressida’s words, intentions, and actions.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kutztown University of PennsylvaniaKutztownUSA

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